The Green Bay Packers took a flier on veteran defensive lineman Jarran Reed this offseason, and while he’s had a limited impact in 2022, the 30-year-old had his best game of the year on Christmas Day against the Miami Dolphins.
It was a much-needed 26-20 upset win for the Packers, with Reed playing a key role on Green Bay’s defense. He finished the game with six total tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. According to Pro Football Focus, Reed was nearly the team’s highest-graded defender in the game, finishing with an 89.9 overall grade, far and away his best grade of the season.
Reed was a positive asset as a pass rusher on Sunday. His four pressures on 34 snaps were the most he’s generated in a single game this season. The 30-year-old was able to dominate his one-on-one matchups, having a plan of attack and executing it with aggressiveness.
Felt like it was easily Jarran Reed's best game of the season on Sunday. pic.twitter.com/haWoqwpzrZ— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) December 27, 2022
Even when Reed found himself in difficult situations, he was able to turn them into winning battles. On his sack, Reed worked a move that left him with his back to the blocker. Rather than being washed out of the play as the quarterback stepped up, Reed was somehow able to work back across the blocker to wrap up Tua Tagovailoa before he could escape.
Heck of an effort from Jarran Reed to work across his blocker from this angle to get to the QB. pic.twitter.com/0z7LDnUETT— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) December 27, 2022
When taking on the run, it didn’t seem to matter who Reed was facing. The veteran line had a good feel for how to control the point of attack, keep his eyes in the backfield, then work to fill gaps on either side of the blocker to meet the ball carrier. This actually showed up a handful of times against the Dolphins.
Great job here by Reed controlling the point of attack, keeping his eyes in the backfield, and shedding across his blocker to meet the ball carrier. pic.twitter.com/M1lpXQvzud— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) December 27, 2022
Didn't seem to matter who Reed was taking on in the trenches. He consistently was making plays against the run and pass. pic.twitter.com/CZutNxZ91S— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) December 27, 2022
The Packers desperately needed someone else to step up on their defensive line besides Kenny Clark. Devonte Wyatt was a first-round pick, but had barely been able to see the field. Meanwhile, Dean Lowry has taken a big step backward in 2022 and had a negligible impact this season.
That being said, the Packers still need some long-term help on the defensive line. Reed only signed a one-year deal this offseason, and it’s unlikely that the Packers are interested in paying serious money to keep an aging veteran in 2023 and beyond given their cap situation in the coming years.
The good news is that Wyatt, a first-round rookie, is finally starting to show flashes and seeing the field more often. He played a career-high 24 snaps on Sunday with Lowry exiting the game early with an injury.
Something that showed up with Wyatt in college that has continued at the NFL level is his ability to make hustle plays downfield. When the play gets away from him, the rookie has shown that he’s still willing to keep going after the play, occasionally rewarding him with cleanup tackles downfield.
I consistently enjoy Devonte Wyatt downfield hustle plays. pic.twitter.com/xMAYBKy6Ds— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) December 27, 2022
Meanwhile, Wyatt’s athleticism continues to flash when on the field. The former Georgia lineman posted a Relative Athletic Score of 9.56 in the pre-draft process, and he has shown rare movement skills on the field at 6’3” and 304 pounds. This pass-rush snap on Sunday is a perfect example of that athleticism on full display.
Pretty outrageous movement skills from Devonte Wyatt.— Tyler Brooke (@TylerDBrooke) December 27, 2022
This is what first-round athleticism from a DL looks like. pic.twitter.com/tdOK4QH1lh
Green Bay’s playoff hopes are being kept alive thanks to a resurgent offense and some solid play from individual players on defense. Even if this season ends in disappointment, the emergence of Wyatt should have Packers fans excited about his future.